Anthony Eades scored 14 of his 29 points in the first quarter and Bluefield used a hot start to beat Robert C. Byrd 64-39 Saturday for its second straight Class AA championship.
Bluefield scored the first 13 points of the game and didn’t give top-seeded Robert C. Byrd (24-1) a chance to become the first champion in West Virginia to go undefeated in 27 years.
Bluefield (25-2) entered the tournament with a collective chip on its shoulder.
The Beavers were the preseason favorite to repeat as champions but fell out of the top spot in The Associated Press poll in early January after a double-digit loss at Class AAA Greenbrier East. The Beavers fell at Westside in late January, then ran off 18 straight victories to finish the season.
Entering the tournament, though, the Beavers came in as the third seed.
They answered the skeptics with their play.
They beat Chapmanville by 29 points in the quarterfinals, ended second-seeded Poca’s 23-game winning streak in the semifinals and came out determined against Robert C. Byrd, which was ranked No. 1 over the final eight weeks of the regular season after overtaking Bluefield.
Bluefield led 25-4 after the first quarter, sinking 11 of 16 shots and making seven steals in the period. Robert C. Byrd, making its first finals appearance since 1996 in Class AAA, had 10 early turnovers and couldn’t recover.
Bluefield led 39-15 at halftime. Robert C. Byrd, which came from eight points down at halftime to beat Westside in the semifinals, had no such comeback this time.
Bluefield went into a lull in the third quarter. Robert C. Byrd scored the first seven points but got no closer than 12 the rest of the game. The Flying Eagles were held to a season low for points.
For the game, Robert C. Byrd shot just 24 percent (9 of 37) from the floor and committed 27 turnovers.
Corey Coppola added 12 points and 10 rebounds for Bluefield while Lykel Collier had 11 assists.
Robert C. Byrd’s Devonti Birch scored 14 points and Justin Noble had 13 points and 11 rebounds.